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Selling Out

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Book two of the Quantum Gravity series sees Lila Black drawn into the intoxicatingly dangerous demon realm. Capricious, in love with beauty, demons are best left to themselves. This is not easy when they can't resist tampering with humans. Justina Robson's new series is a joyful melding of science fiction and fantasy brought together in the figure of the dangerously lovely Book two of the Quantum Gravity series sees Lila Black drawn into the intoxicatingly dangerous demon realm. Capricious, in love with beauty, demons are best left to themselves. This is not easy when they can't resist tampering with humans. Justina Robson's new series is a joyful melding of science fiction and fantasy brought together in the figure of the dangerously lovely Lila Black, a 21-year-old secret agent who's had much of her body replaced with weapon-and-armor-heavy intelligent metal and who isn't sure where her mind ends and her installed AI begins. Lila's world is one where demons, elves, and elementals live alongside people. And somehow Lila and the other agents of the security agency have to provide security for all and stay alive themselves.


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Book two of the Quantum Gravity series sees Lila Black drawn into the intoxicatingly dangerous demon realm. Capricious, in love with beauty, demons are best left to themselves. This is not easy when they can't resist tampering with humans. Justina Robson's new series is a joyful melding of science fiction and fantasy brought together in the figure of the dangerously lovely Book two of the Quantum Gravity series sees Lila Black drawn into the intoxicatingly dangerous demon realm. Capricious, in love with beauty, demons are best left to themselves. This is not easy when they can't resist tampering with humans. Justina Robson's new series is a joyful melding of science fiction and fantasy brought together in the figure of the dangerously lovely Lila Black, a 21-year-old secret agent who's had much of her body replaced with weapon-and-armor-heavy intelligent metal and who isn't sure where her mind ends and her installed AI begins. Lila's world is one where demons, elves, and elementals live alongside people. And somehow Lila and the other agents of the security agency have to provide security for all and stay alive themselves.

30 review for Selling Out

  1. 5 out of 5

    carol.

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Three and a half stars. I enjoyed the first and final thirds of the book. Robson has beautiful wording at times, and flashes of humor that make me smile while reading. The first third is a lovely description of Lila experiencing Demonia. In the middle, I was frustrated with Lila having seemingly random emotional outbursts, with no back story. For instance, in one section, she has shut down and retreated into an emotionless space (but without switching on her AI emotion override), then in the ne Three and a half stars. I enjoyed the first and final thirds of the book. Robson has beautiful wording at times, and flashes of humor that make me smile while reading. The first third is a lovely description of Lila experiencing Demonia. In the middle, I was frustrated with Lila having seemingly random emotional outbursts, with no back story. For instance, in one section, she has shut down and retreated into an emotionless space (but without switching on her AI emotion override), then in the next line, she is yelling at Malachi, a good friend, to "shut up." I gathered the book was about an emotional journey for Lila, but I felt like a lot of it was excessively emotional, with wild mood swings from one paragraph from the next, without narrative hints as to what was provoking it. Some was flatly unrealistic, like her shock at discovering her mentor/friend/manager Sarasilien as a sexual being. I just found it odd, but maybe it was supposed to highlight her emotional immaturity. I was also surprised to find she was merely a "diplomat's secretary" before her transformation into bionic woman, when the hints we had gotten in the previous book seemed like her role was much more important, to wit, Alfheim not allowing Otopia tourists (therefore making a diplomatic corp even more important at establishing relations), and her role at persuading a member of the Alfheim security to act against self-interest by escorting her and a co-worker. To back track into a secretarial role might have been to heighten the conflict she is undergoing internally, but seems unlikely given Robson's world set-up. Should we accept the background of diplomat's secretary, then her brazen, "act first" approach to interacting with other cultures becomes even more odd--surely a diplomat's secretary would be more discrete and knowledgeable about cultural interface. In one section she notes how her boss' blunt language is undoubtedly offensive to the elves, yet she uses the same bluntness herself, all the time with Tath. Emo aside, I enjoyed the developing character of Malachi, and the world building of Demonia. Although I tried to read closely, I found Zal's detour into Zoomenon and subsequent discoveries baffling. Robson attempts to throw readers into her world with some initial backstory, but once her readers get that initial description, are often presented with actions and narrative developments without much context. The ghost ship lost me completely on first reading. The final third finds Lila returning to Otopia and confronting her past and her sister. I found myself caring again about what she was experiencing and reading closely instead of skimming. The various pieces of Malachi's and Zal's investigations came together into a satisfying conclusion as they meet up with Lila again. I'll definitely read the next book, but not yet sure the series is personal library-worthy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.) So once again, it's time for me to pen a single essay concerning an entire series of genre books; because once again I'm tackling a combination of back-titles and a new title from our good friends at genre publisher Pyr, who earlier this year sent me an entire giant box full of cool-looking books mer (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.) So once again, it's time for me to pen a single essay concerning an entire series of genre books; because once again I'm tackling a combination of back-titles and a new title from our good friends at genre publisher Pyr, who earlier this year sent me an entire giant box full of cool-looking books merely because I asked them to. And in this case it's the latest three books by our old friend Justina Robson, whose classic artificial-intelligence primer Silver Screen really blew me away when I read it earlier this year (yep, it was yet another book in this big box from Pyr), and made me realize why she's considered by many to be one of the real shining lights of the so-called "British New Wave" of science-fiction authors in the early 2000s. But this time, though, she delivers something completely different: not a serious mindbending drama about "hard science" conceits, but rather a racy, darkly humorous grand fantasy saga, with not exactly a lot of actual sex thrown in but certainly a lot of sexiness. The name of the entire storyline is the "Quantum Gravity" series (consisting so far of 2006's Keeping It Real, 2007's Selling Out and 2008's Going Under*, with more maybe to come); and I have to admit that they quite literally charmed the socks right off me, despite me having barely any tolerance whatsoever for the fantasy genre in general. Ah, but this isn't any ol' fantasy series, see; it's written in the style of a newish subgenre called "urban fantasy," a type of story that barely existed at all before the mid-1980s or so, but has suddenly exploded in recent years in a way rarely seen in the world of the speculative arts. And to understand what urban fantasy is, one needs simply to recall its two most popular examples, the Harry Potter series and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; they are stories where for one reason or another, tropes from the world of traditional fantasy (wizards, magic, trolls, ogres, etc etc etc) somehow exist within a contemporary, science-based society. And it's this and this alone that makes urban fantasy even tolerable to me at all; because to tell the truth, the thing about traditional Tolkien-style fantasy that drives me the craziest is all the flowery Medieval crap that comes along with it, all the endless stilted dialogue and pre-tech warfare and traipsing around the woods by candlelight and the rest. (And in an attempt to pre-emptively stop a rash of angry letters from coming in, let me make it perfectly clear that I don't think there's anything wrong with liking traditional fantasy, simply that it's not my particular cup of tea, just as there are lots of people who can't stand the silly neo-Victorian finery of the "steampunk" genre that I so adore.) But this being Robson, of course, she's come up with her own jarringly unique twist on things, which in good "world-building" style starts with a seemingly simple conceit behind it all, which then gets more and more complex the further you examine it: namely, that throughout the entire course of human history, there have actually been half a dozen inhabited planets scattered across the universe, each of the others filled with the kinds of creatures we've only known before in fairytales (a world full of elves, a world full of demons, a world full of fairies, etc), and that a recent mysterious cataclysmic event (known as the "quantum bomb") ripped open an interdimensional gateway between the worlds for the first time. And right away, in fact, Robson does with this concept one of the most brilliant things I've ever seen a genre author do, which is to answer all the immediate questions one would have concerning such a quantum bomb with a simple, "Nobody knows;" that in fact one of the many side-effects of this bomb was to collectively wipe humanity's memories of life before the bomb (much less what caused the bomb itself), to such a profound extent that Earth isn't even called 'Earth' anymore but rather 'Otopia,' to signify The World That Is from The World That Was. What these books mostly concern themselves with, then, are the ways these various races deal with each other, now that they can all travel freely between the worlds, as well as humanity's efforts to learn as much about these other planets as possible; and Robson does this in a way that harkens all the way back to Silver Screen, by presenting us with the delightfully neurotic main protagonist Lila Black, who is half big-hipped indie-rock nerd queen and half mechanized warrior robot, the result of a freak one-time bionics experiment by what is now Otopia's interdimensional spy agency, after a previous assignment that went bad and left her nearly dead. This is actually one of the things Robson is known for, in fact, addressing female body-image issues through the filter of some pretty astounding hard-science concepts; and just like the self-conscious big-hipped female heroine of Silver Screen, so too is Lila's preoccupation with her looks a running theme to the Quantum Gravity series, and so too does Lila spend quite a bit of time pondering how her semi-hideous half-mecha body** comes across to others, and how it does and does not affect her love life among all the various creatures out there in the interdimensional universe. Because did I not mention that the whole thing is a raunchy sex comedy too? The whole thing is a raunchy sex comedy too; although please be aware that in the best tradition of erotic tales written by women for women, there are precious few actual graphic sex scenes in the series (only one or two per book), with Robson otherwise pulling off the Austenesque feat of filling the books with sexual tension and grown-up humor instead. And again, she does this in these sometimes infinitely clever ways, that rely heavily on the fantastical elements of the universe she's created; take for example her entire concept of 'aether,' which in the world of "Quantum Gravity" is supposed to be a sort of form of naturally existing energy that humans simply never knew about before the bomb, a sorta free form of electricity and an internet-style wireless communications network all at once, or perhaps it's better thought of like "The Force" from the original Star Wars trilogy, a kind of living energy that binds together all living creatures and affects their actions in subtle ways. It's a substance that can be detected and manipulated by the elves, who turn out to be the second most talked-about race in these books after humans -- creatures who look almost exactly like the elves from Lord of the Rings, only much more pissy if you can believe it -- and in fact the elves of Robson's universe actually have two different bodies, a physical one and then an aetheric one that sorta hangs around and inside and outside the corporeal one, and which actually feeds off this mysterious aether and can do things with it that seem to humans like old-skool magic (and by 'old-skool' I mean King Arthur). So, to cite one of Robson's ribald examples of what can be done with such a conceit, consider this: that if you've ever in the past felt a sorta strange thing in the air whenever you've partaken in an intense flirtation with someone, something that feels almost like a kind of charged electricity between the two of you that moment, according to Robson you're not just making things up -- this really is the aether of the universe affecting the two of you, working in these incomprehensible ways to make that repartee a much more passionate, dangerous thing than it would otherwise be. And this is just one example I'm talking about, with Robson actually throwing in dozens of them throughout this plainly-written, easy-to-follow series -- from the demon etiquette of attending cocktail parties bathed in the blood of your enemies, to the druglike high humans get while having sex on one of the aether-heavy non-Otopian planets, and a whole lot more smart and kinda dirty stuff to boot. And this of course is to say nothing of the hundreds of nonsexual details about this universe that Robson layers in throughout, which in classic Tolkienian style exists not just of a series of exotic mythologies but even numerous mythologies within these mythologies; there is not just one race of elves but two, for example, with a complicated Indian-style caste system that defines both their relationship and their society in general, plus with an extinct third race whose genocide is a closely-guarded elvish secret, which may or may not have something to do with the quantum bomb that humans can no longer remember anything about. Now multiply this by a hundred, and you're starting to get an idea of the myriad of levels Robson builds into this mesmerizing, addictive universe. It's hard for me to overstate just how great I found this series, and how like Silver Screen I found it an almost perfect example of its particular genre done right; or in other words, if you're the type of person who only reads one fantasy book a year, you could do a lot worse than to make it Keeping It Real (book 1 of this series) for 2009. An endlessly inventive hybrid of technology and magic, tied together with an internal logic as rock-solid as genre fiction gets, this is sure to be a much-loved treat to any speculative fan out there. The entire series gets a big recommendation from me today. Out of 10: 9.3, or 10 for existing fantasy fans *All that said, let me confess that I did not read book 3 of the series, Going Under; because no matter how well-written of fantasy books these are, they're still fantasy books, and I found my natural distaste for fantasy simply rearing its ugly head again by the time I was halfway through book 2. This however still does not change my opinion expressed above, that even non-fans of the genre should tackle at least the first book in the series, and that those who like fantasy in general even a little would be wise to gobble up the entire thing. **And speaking of body-image issues, please be aware that the Lila described in the books looks profoundly different than the admittedly kickass illustrations by Larry Rostant gracing the covers of all these titles, and that this is a big part of where her neurosis comes in; how ironic, in fact, that one of her ongoing anxieties is over not looking like one of those Neil-Gaiman-reading pixie hipster cosplay hotties she's exactly depicted as on the books' covers.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Guy

    OK, there is now no doubt: Robson just can't write very well. Despite being disappointed by the first book in the series I was willing to give her another chance... but in my library it is two strikes and you are out. Strike two. OK, there is now no doubt: Robson just can't write very well. Despite being disappointed by the first book in the series I was willing to give her another chance... but in my library it is two strikes and you are out. Strike two.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sven

    lots of detail but less direction in the story. A variaty of creatures and a women half human en half robot. The fact that there was a dragon in the story helpt to finish te book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shara

    Don't get me wrong, the book comes together in the end, despite the billions of maddening questions and unresolved subplots. But I enjoyed it. Emotionally, it resolved, even if events didn't. I still find myself confused as to particular details due to my reading of the text, but I'm not too upset, because I'm pretty certain Robson will explain them all (even if it is in a rather roundabout way) in the next book(s). Plus this is the kind of story I see myself sitting down and reading over again Don't get me wrong, the book comes together in the end, despite the billions of maddening questions and unresolved subplots. But I enjoyed it. Emotionally, it resolved, even if events didn't. I still find myself confused as to particular details due to my reading of the text, but I'm not too upset, because I'm pretty certain Robson will explain them all (even if it is in a rather roundabout way) in the next book(s). Plus this is the kind of story I see myself sitting down and reading over again when I have all the books of the trilogy/series at my disposal and can read them right in a row. Plus, I think the more you know about the story, the characters, and their worlds, the more sense it all makes, so reading them again will illuminate the books in ways that weren't noticeable the first time around.[return] [return]If you're a fan of the first book, you'll like this one. Bear in mind, though, it is very different. No romance, no sex scenes, and Lila and Zal don't even have a scene together until the very end. But there's so many wonderful new characters that you shouldn't mind the absence TOO much. Also be aware that you're going to want to get your hands on the third book as soon as you finish the second, but alas, I don't think the third book's on the immediate horizon, at least not in the US. Maybe the UK already has a release date? I'm not sure, but from some reason, I'm under the impression that Robson is still working on it. Whatever the case, I'm looking forward to it.[return][return]For a full review, which DOES include spoilers, please click here: http://calico-reaction.livejournal.co...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    3.5 stars. I like that the worlds got a lot more complex. It not quite the simple elves, demons, fairies anymore, there are lot more layers. Maybe a few too many layers, there are an awful lot of characters floating around but not a ton of character development. It isn't terrible at all, just not as rich as I'd like. Also, it doesn't quite connect emotionally as much as I'd like, which made me dock it about half a point. But I still like Lila a lot, and I like Zal more than I did in the last boo 3.5 stars. I like that the worlds got a lot more complex. It not quite the simple elves, demons, fairies anymore, there are lot more layers. Maybe a few too many layers, there are an awful lot of characters floating around but not a ton of character development. It isn't terrible at all, just not as rich as I'd like. Also, it doesn't quite connect emotionally as much as I'd like, which made me dock it about half a point. But I still like Lila a lot, and I like Zal more than I did in the last book. He claims that he's terribly shallow but the author goes to great lengths to show that that's not really true. Lila's relationship, if you can call it that, with Tath, the elf necromancer who's living inside her heart, continues to develop in interesting ways that add a lot to the story. Mal, Lila's suit-loving black cat fairy colleague, becomes a bigger character in this book, and he's a lot of fun. I liked Teazle the demon assassin a lot, as well as Lila's crazy imp familiar Thingamajig. The ghosts and Zoomonia were mostly just confusing. But the American government stuff was good. Frustrating, but good. It probably would be a lot like that. I hope we get to find out more about Sarasilien, the elf who is working with the American government, in the next book. Tath says that he is hiding his identity, very intriguing! Overall, it's a really fun mix-up of the genres with fun characters and ideas that seem to be developing in intriguing directions.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michael Mcclelland

    I'd hoped by Book 2 of this series that the heavy lifting (describing the multiverse, races and philosophies, development of the identities of and relationships between the main characters and the reader, etc) had been done, and that subsequent books would dwell more on an actual storyline. Alas, there are more worlds to know, more creatures to draw within our circle and only by book-end do we get a concrete and purposeful vision for the reader to hang their hat upon. It's not easy-going for the I'd hoped by Book 2 of this series that the heavy lifting (describing the multiverse, races and philosophies, development of the identities of and relationships between the main characters and the reader, etc) had been done, and that subsequent books would dwell more on an actual storyline. Alas, there are more worlds to know, more creatures to draw within our circle and only by book-end do we get a concrete and purposeful vision for the reader to hang their hat upon. It's not easy-going for the reader to get to that point either. The author throws up wild ideas with abandon, but never stops long enough to leave anything but a sketch. Tolkein created worlds. Here, (and not to imply that they are remotely equals), Robson dreams them. Still, the science-fiction/real-science/fantasy fusion is an intriguing blend and now that some kind of multi-racial investigatory team has established itself and happened across a mystery to solve, we might finally be getting somewhere! There's at least enough to tempt me back for another serving.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Neon Snake

    Yeeeeah, I dunno. Glancing down at the other reviews, I see that lots of people have evidently enjoyed it. I think I was just struggling to concentrate and to take it in - I was listening on audio rather than reading, and for most of the book, I was finding myself without the faintest idea of what was going on or why. This is obviously fairly common with audios if I'm concentrating on driving, but usually the plot sinks in, or I'm invested enough to rewind to work out what I've missed. With this Yeeeeah, I dunno. Glancing down at the other reviews, I see that lots of people have evidently enjoyed it. I think I was just struggling to concentrate and to take it in - I was listening on audio rather than reading, and for most of the book, I was finding myself without the faintest idea of what was going on or why. This is obviously fairly common with audios if I'm concentrating on driving, but usually the plot sinks in, or I'm invested enough to rewind to work out what I've missed. With this, whilst it's fun enough, it just didn't have enough weight to keep me interested. YMMV.

  9. 4 out of 5

    AilsaOD

    I read book 1 in my teens and thought it was an interesting story (if a little strange and convoluted) so when I saw there was a sequel I thought why not? This book (and the one before) is strange. Part of this comes from the writing style and the attempt at describing things that do not describe well but often it comes across as a pretentious and confusing. I could not care less about Lila and her issues, or for anyone else to be honest, and watching her make a thorough mess of everything was t I read book 1 in my teens and thought it was an interesting story (if a little strange and convoluted) so when I saw there was a sequel I thought why not? This book (and the one before) is strange. Part of this comes from the writing style and the attempt at describing things that do not describe well but often it comes across as a pretentious and confusing. I could not care less about Lila and her issues, or for anyone else to be honest, and watching her make a thorough mess of everything was tiresome. However near the end Zal has this one REALLY good chapter about his backstory. Is it wrong that I wish the series could have followed his life instead because it was so much better than everything else here.The main plot meanders, trips up and gets hijacked by the side plots so the pacing feels v e r y weird and spacey. There were however some interesting parts that made me a little tempted to read book 3 (though ultimately I deemed it not worth the bother). The world building of Demonia, the realm much of the story takes place in, was very detailed and I'm sure some people would find it interesting but the ramifications of demons' lack of value of life became quite depressing. Also! If you are not a fan of explicitly described nudity then this really is not the book for you because there is a lot. It got to the point where I was expecting there to be sex scenes but there weren't? Well there was one kind of but it was most the way through the book and it was very odd. I think some people might really like this book if it suits their tastes and they aren't bothered by the writing style but it really wasn't for me.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Well. Quite disappointed... Mehhh. Read the first part in 2015, after my surgery... I must've been pretty damn doped to think it was good. Somehow the world, the characters, the events all made me want to smack myself on the forehead with the book. Lightly entertaining here and there with some dialogue parts. Well. Quite disappointed... Mehhh. Read the first part in 2015, after my surgery... I must've been pretty damn doped to think it was good. Somehow the world, the characters, the events all made me want to smack myself on the forehead with the book. Lightly entertaining here and there with some dialogue parts.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Janna Garrett

    Good. But. 3 and a half stars. The themes, the emotions, and the scenery are good. Good Character arcs. The plot development and the pacing of events was confusing. Did the editor have a page limit? It seems like there was editing for word count or something. But in the end it was good. Probably won't read it again but I'm starting book 3 immediately. Good. But. 3 and a half stars. The themes, the emotions, and the scenery are good. Good Character arcs. The plot development and the pacing of events was confusing. Did the editor have a page limit? It seems like there was editing for word count or something. But in the end it was good. Probably won't read it again but I'm starting book 3 immediately.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Martyn F

    This book fills not like a completed story, but more as an in-between or runner up to the next book. This time we are mostly in the demon world. And although an interesting world, there is too little story there. The parts about Zoomenon and I-space were sometimes hard to follow, but still interesting enough. 1 star less because of too little story.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Karina

    Less messy than the previous installment. I enjoyed this, I still like Lila, although I am confused about what the bigger picture is. If there is one at all. I own book three - stopped buying after that. Will find out when I reread that, I suppose.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tony Castley

    Robson's storytelling matures with this book and is a very enjoyable read. Robson's storytelling matures with this book and is a very enjoyable read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Webcowgirl

    Solid science fiction/fantasy, great world building and really interesting characters. It never lost my interest.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Densely detailed and lovely. The story moves into the elemental and demon worlds.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nico Janow

    DNF. Partway through I started skipping pages quickly, but just couldn't find anything to make me want to continue. I didn't like any of the characters, so I didn't care what happened next. DNF. Partway through I started skipping pages quickly, but just couldn't find anything to make me want to continue. I didn't like any of the characters, so I didn't care what happened next.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Karissa

    This is the second book in the Quantum Gravity series by Justina Robson. I liked the first book really well, but I wasn't as impressed with this book. The plot was too hacked up, and the storylines that the different characters followed seemed unrelated. Despite that, the world is still really intriguing and the characters re-joined at the end of the book making me want to read more about them. I listened to this on audio book, and while the audio book was okay, it wasn't the greatest reading I' This is the second book in the Quantum Gravity series by Justina Robson. I liked the first book really well, but I wasn't as impressed with this book. The plot was too hacked up, and the storylines that the different characters followed seemed unrelated. Despite that, the world is still really intriguing and the characters re-joined at the end of the book making me want to read more about them. I listened to this on audio book, and while the audio book was okay, it wasn't the greatest reading I've ever heard. The reader had trouble doing male voices without making them sound annoying. Lila Black is sent to Demonia on a mission to find how Zal became part demon. Meanwhile Zal gets stuck in the elemental realm (after having words about Lila with Malichi over an odd game of cards) and spends time there trying to get out. Malichi journeys to the Interstitial realm to learn more about ghosts. Eventually they all end up back together, but how all this is related to the problem of the cracks in the six different worlds is all a mystery to me. I had some trouble understanding what this book was getting at. Lila didn't do much in Demonia besides get into trouble and meet an imp; okay so she gets into *a lot* of trouble. Meanwhile Zal (who is on his way to meet her) ends up in the Elemental Realm and spends a lot of time there trying to get back out without dying. Zal's part was kind of boring and dreamy and really only had one important reason for happening as far as I could tell. Totally unrelated to all of this Malichi ends up in the in-between Interstitial space learning about ghosts. If all of this stuff sounds unrelated, well, it pretty much was. I am fairly certain that everything that happened will play a major part in later books, but for this book it was mainly just disconnected and random. The way Robson switched between Lila, Zal, and Malichi was hard to follow. She stopped at odd places in one character's story and then switched to another character. I just found the switches to be unnatural and, at points, it made the story hard to follow. I also got kind of sick of Lila's constant whining. It was crazy how she followed what the Agency told her blindly; although this is finally explained late in the book. Zal and Lila barely see each other the whole book and that was also disappointing. Another odd thing was that the game between Zal and Lila (which took up a good portion of Book 1) was rarely mentioned in this book. There was also a lot that was done well in this book. The descriptions of Demon culture were very interesting. Where "Keeping it Real' focused on the Elven world, the majority of this book is about Demonia. Also you get to learn a lot more about both Zal's and Lila's past. It was great to finally meet some people from their past and learn more about what shaped their backgrounds and drives them. Teesil was an awesome addition to the story, as the lead assassin of Demonia, and I look forward to him being a bigger part of the next book. The ending of the story was absolutely fantastic; I was impressed with how Robson brought the characters together and set things up for a great book 3. Really the ending was the most exciting part of this book and is the only thing making me interested in reading the next book of the series. Overall, I have mixed feelings about this book. Some things were awesome, some things not so much. I will read the third book because this book seemed to be setting things up for a great story in the third book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lexie

    In Keeping it Real we met Lila, Miss Cyborg Protector of the Year and Zal, Mister Improbable Elf Rocker. Lila was to protect Zal, Zal just had to stay alive...it was pretty simple at first. So of course things had to go hairy real quick, causing all sorts of problems (not the least of which Lila reuniting with the Elf who messed up her body to begin with) and ending all sorts of problems. Selling Out, the second book, at least grants the fact that Lila is getting a crappy job with little chance o In Keeping it Real we met Lila, Miss Cyborg Protector of the Year and Zal, Mister Improbable Elf Rocker. Lila was to protect Zal, Zal just had to stay alive...it was pretty simple at first. So of course things had to go hairy real quick, causing all sorts of problems (not the least of which Lila reuniting with the Elf who messed up her body to begin with) and ending all sorts of problems. Selling Out, the second book, at least grants the fact that Lila is getting a crappy job with little chance of real success and high probability of death, dismemberment and lack of back-up. Sent to Demonia to retrieve whatever information she could on Zal the half demon elf, Lila is ill-prepared for much of what awaits. Nothing new, since she was ill-prepared for most of Keeping it Real as well, but her ingenuity and stubbornness once again helps her to survive. Zal meanwhile is on a mission to protect her, since the Game they are both playing has not played it self out (well that's one of the reasons) and that's when things get really weird. I can definitely say I read through this sequel with more reluctance than the first book. The first book was such a wonder and filled with such keen things that the fact I lost track of things on occasion didn't bother me overmuch. It bothered me more in this book. True, Robson does an outstanding job describing Demonia and its societal structuring (middle management really is hell), but its not enough to hold together some of the fragmented pieces of plot. Between the abrupt shifts in narrative focus (Lila, Zal and even Malachi each have separate adventures that we follow), somewhat pointless nature too much of what happens to all three characters and lack of adequate bantering time for Lila and Zal, the book had me spending more time wondering when things would make sense then concentrating on the story itself. I will say this, I liked Malachi quite a bit in the first book and was sad by how little we saw him, Robson makes up for it twofold in this book. Sadly I'm not sure the screen-time he had was completely necessary. As of this review there are two more books already out in the Quantum Gravity series Going Under (Book 3) and Chasing the Dragon (Book 4). It’s my assumption that what happened to each character will have more impact in the next novels, but that's just a guess on my part. While this was a fun ride, it was too often confusing and jumbled to be truly entertaining.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Literary George (For Your Literary Pleasure Blog)

    Full review at For Your Literary Pleasure I liked this more than the first. I think it was the demons and Daemonia. They were all fun, games and killing people. I loved the nuances on color that existed in their world and that they didn't worry themselves into knots. They love living life and this series needed a little more pizzazz to spice it up. I was intrigued by Teazle, he was obviously drawn to Lila and there was more explanation to their possible relationship in comparison to Zal. By that Full review at For Your Literary Pleasure I liked this more than the first. I think it was the demons and Daemonia. They were all fun, games and killing people. I loved the nuances on color that existed in their world and that they didn't worry themselves into knots. They love living life and this series needed a little more pizzazz to spice it up. I was intrigued by Teazle, he was obviously drawn to Lila and there was more explanation to their possible relationship in comparison to Zal. By that I mean not much because Zal and Lila were all up in each other for no reason. I have a major issue with the relationships in this novel not being fleshed out enough. Lila's friendships and working relationships have back story and meaning but her romantic ones seem more like a lucky dip. The culmination of Lila, Zal and Teazle's triangle was abrupt and unexplained. I had no idea how or why they all ended up together an not in a sexual manner. *smh* In regard to plot, I was irked by the constant narration change. I know that Zal's little side adventure to Zoomenon was important in discovering the dark side of Elf history but I had to reorient every time it changed. I would have preferred it to be summarized. The imp companion was a helpful addition, acting more like a second narrator to the foreign land that is Lila's mind. He laid it out in logical fashion and often had me saying "Oh! I get it now." Despite the helpful imp, this book was still confusing. I think it's because there is a lot of assumed knowledge. While I'm often complaining that authors dumb it down Robson makes leaps and bounds that leave me in the dust. I will be reading the final three books of the series only because I hate leaving character stories unfinished. Still a good Sci-Fi and sparse on the romance. xxx Literary George Follow me on Facebook

  21. 4 out of 5

    Raj

    The second in the Quantum Gravity sequence, six years after the Quantum Bomb has broken down the walls between realities, special agent Lila Black has returned from her first assignment to the Elven lands and is immediately sent to Hell, in more ways than one. What I loved about the first book in this series, Keeping It Real, was the heroine. Lila is a wonderful character, and not just because she's a one-woman nuclear-powered army. She's a fully rounded person, trying to come to terms with the a The second in the Quantum Gravity sequence, six years after the Quantum Bomb has broken down the walls between realities, special agent Lila Black has returned from her first assignment to the Elven lands and is immediately sent to Hell, in more ways than one. What I loved about the first book in this series, Keeping It Real, was the heroine. Lila is a wonderful character, and not just because she's a one-woman nuclear-powered army. She's a fully rounded person, trying to come to terms with the accident that almost killed her, with the fact that the people who rebuilt her aren't perhaps as trustworthy as she thought and that she's just started a civil war amongst the Elves. The title of this book refers to selling yourself out - not being true to yourself is what the demons here consider as "being in Hell" and Lila is certainly there, with no immediate way out. The fact that she's also starting to question her AI and whether her body is actually under her control also does nothing to ease her state of mind. In some ways, this book felt quite confused - there was a lot going on in it, and it was expanding the mythology of the series rapidly, but it has a strong heart. Even if Lila does seems sort of emo at times, she's coping with what's happening to her a hell of a lot better than I could. The growing cast is fun, and the Elven necromancer who ended up sharing her body at the tail end of the first book counterbalances Lila and helps ground her. Because there are so many different plot strands in this one, I found it harder to keep track of what's going on than in Keeping It Real, but I still enjoyed it immensely.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nev Percy

    Justina Robson is on top form with this Lila Black series. Don't be put off by the genre-crossover 'pitch' of cyber-babe meets elves and fairies and magic and what-not -- it's really good stuff! The writing is incredibly tight, and the various otherwordly goings-on are as lean as befits frantic action but have the internal consistency to suggest a really well thought out basis. In several places I've read through, breathless and only half-understanding what's occurring, but knowing that this is a Justina Robson is on top form with this Lila Black series. Don't be put off by the genre-crossover 'pitch' of cyber-babe meets elves and fairies and magic and what-not -- it's really good stuff! The writing is incredibly tight, and the various otherwordly goings-on are as lean as befits frantic action but have the internal consistency to suggest a really well thought out basis. In several places I've read through, breathless and only half-understanding what's occurring, but knowing that this is a fair simulation of what Lila is experiencing. Going back to those places and reading them again more carefully and knowing what I was looking for this time, they've absolutely stood up to inspection. Selling Out, specifically, is 'the demons one' -- but these are philosophical demons rather than the fanged footsoldiers of the pit. (And only half as philosophical as the concept of devils that she gets in there as well!) I wasn't quite as compelled by this one as by the first or the third, possibly because I didn't have any existing frames of reference to compare the demons against (where the first was 'the (first?) elves one', and the third was 'the faerie one') but that's hardly a criticism. I have the fourth on pre-order and I can't wait!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brownbetty

    Definitely not the sort of series where on can jump right in on the second book. Lots of different POV characters, no explanation of why you should care about them, and little indication that their stories will eventually tie together. Happily, I had read the previous book. Continues to be decent, although the theme of this book seems to be that the protagonist avoids critical self-reflection and seeks life-threatening situations so that she needn't think about other things too much, and it times Definitely not the sort of series where on can jump right in on the second book. Lots of different POV characters, no explanation of why you should care about them, and little indication that their stories will eventually tie together. Happily, I had read the previous book. Continues to be decent, although the theme of this book seems to be that the protagonist avoids critical self-reflection and seeks life-threatening situations so that she needn't think about other things too much, and it times she does become a little irksome in this respect. A minor point, but something I want to quote (also, wouldn't it be cool if we had some kind of nice semantic mark-up for quotes, which when used within bookreviews would automagically source our quotes in the markup? Get right on that, elves!) "Oojie boojie boozum poppet, yes, yes..." she said to Okie, burying her face in his ruff as he whimpered. The she in the above quote is Lila Black, our tough-as-nails cyborg protagonist, talking to her dog, a mongrel. Certain people will know why I quote this.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Proffitt

    These books are distinctly Sci-Fi rather than Urban Fantasy, for all they include elves, demons, ghosts, etc. This is one case where the cover art enhances the contents by cueing you into the potential genre-misdirect—i.e. the cover screams Sci-Fi and that's all to the good. This book probably deserved 3.5 rather than four stars. Though well-written and with deeply realized characters, it was more disjointed than the first book and included long diversions into alternate viewpoints. Still, I appr These books are distinctly Sci-Fi rather than Urban Fantasy, for all they include elves, demons, ghosts, etc. This is one case where the cover art enhances the contents by cueing you into the potential genre-misdirect—i.e. the cover screams Sci-Fi and that's all to the good. This book probably deserved 3.5 rather than four stars. Though well-written and with deeply realized characters, it was more disjointed than the first book and included long diversions into alternate viewpoints. Still, I appreciated getting Zal's back story in the detail we did and enjoyed the different, converging storylines as well. And the diversions, while seeming a stall in the story (particularly Zal's extended off-world foray), were engaging enough in their own way and I rather suspect that they will serve as a foundation for the future stories. Indeed, considering the revelations in the final chapters, I suspect those parts will turn out to be rather critical in the upcoming adventure as Lila, Zal, and friends come to grapple with... uh, the changes in their circumstance(s).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    The flip side of the Elves are the Demons, and it's an interesting to orient alongside Lila to this wide open culture. Perfect for a woman so repressed, the scar tissue is being torn from one than one of Lila's hidden wounds. Zal and Malachi are up to their own adventures, but truthfully, I am impatient every time the story takes me away from Lila. Lila spiralsndown into her own Hell, and her crisis of soul has lessnto do with loathing her mechanised body (as in book one), as with facing the grea The flip side of the Elves are the Demons, and it's an interesting to orient alongside Lila to this wide open culture. Perfect for a woman so repressed, the scar tissue is being torn from one than one of Lila's hidden wounds. Zal and Malachi are up to their own adventures, but truthfully, I am impatient every time the story takes me away from Lila. Lila spiralsndown into her own Hell, and her crisis of soul has lessnto do with loathing her mechanised body (as in book one), as with facing the greater unpleasant truths about her relationship with her employers. Zal is in his utmost Jack Sparrow mode, stumbling through revelations with a grin and a non sequitur. I kept reading for the moment Zal, Lila and Teazle end up in the same room, and it's not until the last chapter that my hopes where realized. Of course, this has me anxious to get started on book three...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    This is definitely a curl up with a cup of tea and ignore the real world book, it's so entirely fantastical. There are several strands joined together around the main cyborg chick Lila Black - Is she selling out or merely learning to love herself - bit of a cliche that one I guess, but engagingly done, with a trip into Demonia, hell and the underworld. I think I was more interested in the circling characters and what Robson did with them - Zal, the elf of shadow/light, part demon, crossing over i This is definitely a curl up with a cup of tea and ignore the real world book, it's so entirely fantastical. There are several strands joined together around the main cyborg chick Lila Black - Is she selling out or merely learning to love herself - bit of a cliche that one I guess, but engagingly done, with a trip into Demonia, hell and the underworld. I think I was more interested in the circling characters and what Robson did with them - Zal, the elf of shadow/light, part demon, crossing over into the elemental work, & Mal, the faery with panther form. SOme interesting concepts working over Elvish in an unusual way, and faery too, much less overtly romantic than usual and all the more palatable for that.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kara-karina

    There is a phrase to describe this sci-fi slash fantasy read: bat-shit crazy. If I could still follow book #1, this one had a lot of infodumps and incredibly detailed complex worlds. My head was spinning, but I still enjoyed Lila and Co. adventures. She is a secret agent and a cyborg falling for a dark elf/demon. What's not to love? Add a loyal fae friend, different dimensions and incredible vicious beauty of demon realms, and you have one mesmerizing pain in the butt of a book. Similar reads: n There is a phrase to describe this sci-fi slash fantasy read: bat-shit crazy. If I could still follow book #1, this one had a lot of infodumps and incredibly detailed complex worlds. My head was spinning, but I still enjoyed Lila and Co. adventures. She is a secret agent and a cyborg falling for a dark elf/demon. What's not to love? Add a loyal fae friend, different dimensions and incredible vicious beauty of demon realms, and you have one mesmerizing pain in the butt of a book. Similar reads: none. Maybe Fifth Element and Final Fantasy?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Deirdre

    Sometimes a bit confused this could have done with me revisiting the first book in the series to check on relationships and other issues. Lila Black is a great character and in this story she ends up in the Demon Dimension. She;s still dealing with the issues brought about by her cyberwear and her new lifestyle and the men in her life. I like this series and really will have to purchase copies for my own library.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tal S

    cyborg meets fantasy. it was ok - the world(s) are interesting, the heroine a little too angsty and oblivious, the ending is (relatively) happy. *shrug* i'd read the next in the series, but i wouldnt actively look for it edit: rereading in Sept 2011, i liked this book a lot more - i liked that the heroine was a fully 3d character (like the others) with her own agenda and rationalisations and blind spots. cyborg meets fantasy. it was ok - the world(s) are interesting, the heroine a little too angsty and oblivious, the ending is (relatively) happy. *shrug* i'd read the next in the series, but i wouldnt actively look for it edit: rereading in Sept 2011, i liked this book a lot more - i liked that the heroine was a fully 3d character (like the others) with her own agenda and rationalisations and blind spots.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Yolanda Sfetsos

    Selling Out is another action-packed, interesting book that expands on Lila's life, as we get a taste of her human side and the family she left behind, and she starts to understand a few truths about why she was really made/saved from death. The spirit of the elf she carries inside (Tath) becomes like an inner voice that both helps and frustrates her, and she even gets herself an imp companion. Selling Out is another action-packed, interesting book that expands on Lila's life, as we get a taste of her human side and the family she left behind, and she starts to understand a few truths about why she was really made/saved from death. The spirit of the elf she carries inside (Tath) becomes like an inner voice that both helps and frustrates her, and she even gets herself an imp companion.

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